Book One of the Adamant Triskelion trilogy
Description (from story page)
Rarity's exploits in "Sweet and Elite" set in motion a chain of events that will find the unicorn dressmaker taking part in the greatest airship race in the world, the Alicorn's Cup. Excitement will give way to terror, as Rarity soon finds herself the victim of a plot against Equestria, and shipwrecked far from home with her least favorite stallion, the boorish Prince Blueblood. Rarity will learn of treachery in Canterlot and abroad, and will have search for something of substance beneath the prince's obnoxious veneer as she struggles to not only save herself, but her entire nation.
I read. A lot. Fiction, history, science, math, fanfiction, you-name-it. And while the vast majority of stories usually don't receive my formal review - positive or negative, I almost always could write something about them. The Flight of The Alicorn by Ponydora Prancypants is one of a fantastically rare handful of stories that leave me without words to describe it. At least, initially. It's not bad; on the contrary, this story was so good that I hesitated in writing this review in the fear that I would not be able to do it justice. That fear aside, however, this is my attempt.
The Flight of The Alicorn appears at first glance to promise a romantic comedy. The ever prim and proper Rarity butts heads with with the self-righteous, pompous Prince Blueblood as they embark on an airship race across Equestria. Hilarity and lots of cake-tossing ensues. Or, at least, that's what one might expect. While on the facade this might be the case (including the cake-throwing), the story quickly opens up to a fantastically complex plot, complete with romantic and comedic subplots, all of which are held fast by a simple but deep theme.
When the renowned airship regatta is cut short by scandal and murder, Rarity finds herself in the most unlikely (and unwanted) of positions sharing Blueblood's airship, the Alicorn. After crashing in the aptly-named "Impenetrable Lands," they quickly discover that working together is their only hope of returning home to Equestria alive. Facing off against griffons, traitorous pegasus ponies and unicorns, and even the jungle itself, Rarity finds herself becoming allies with the most unlikely of individuals while learning a valuable lesson in forgiveness. The actions of our heroic duo cause the true characters of both Rarity and Blueblood to come out into the open, and both of them are surprised at what they've found hidden deep within the other, for better or worse. Eventually, however, Rarity comes to realize that even the most dreadful of ponies can become rather good - and maybe even charming - individuals worthy of a second chance.
While the theme itself has been done before, Ponydora shows through his/her literary skill exactly how it should be achieved. Rarity's introspective narrative is insightful, entertaining, and involving. The reader not only gets a sense of Rarity as a character, but her internal dialogue gives an incredibly detailed look into how Rarity thinks and feels about her surroundings, her circumstances, and even herself. I, for one, finished the story with a much greater respect for Rarity's character, and I feel like I understand her better than I did before I started reading The Flight of The Alicorn.
This also speaks of how perfect Ponydora's characterizations were throughout the story. Any of Ponydora's characters, canon or otherwise, could easily be transplanted into canon FIM without so much as a blink of the eye by the most fastidious of fans. Rarity, Blueblood, the Mane Six, and even the original characters integrate so seamlessly into Ponydora's marvelously detailed extension of Equestria, that I needed to remind myself more than once that The Flight of The Alicorn is not, in fact, canon. When a fanfiction is so well-written that the reader finds him/herself believing that they are reading canon material, this is the hallmark of a truly wonderful story and an amazingly talented author.
This story has everything: action, intrigue, conspiracy, murder, romance, comedy, adventure, and a powerful moral. It's difficult to believe that a novel of this calibre could be possible as a fanfiction, but this story has convinced me of such on so many different levels. I look forward to reading the rest of the Adamant Triskelion trilogy. The Flight of The Alicorn should be in everyone's favourites list.
Scores (See grade descriptions at bottom.)
OVERALL GRADE: B
Crystal Cadence award recipient!
Distinctions: first ever Crystal Cadence award recipient, first ever award recipient overall.
The theme of The Flight of The Alicorn took me a while to get ahold of. That is, it took me a dozen or-so chapters. It wasn't until well after Rarity and Blueblood were marooned in the jungle of the aptly-named "Impenetrable Lands" that the underlying theme became obvious. Ponies - and, by extension, people - can change for the better and become really good individuals worth knowing and befriending, even if they began as "boorish" and crass as Blueblood himself. While the theme was good and well-defined, especially toward the end, I think The Flight of The Alicorn went a bit too far with it in terms of Blueblood's and Rarity's characters. Had their relationship progressed no further than it had just before their second visit to Gallopoli, this category would have earned an 'A'.
Admittedly, there are many other stories on FIMFiction that have central to the plot a threat against Equestria, from both within and from outside her borders. Indeed, almost all the fics I read on FIMFiction are of that stripe, due mainly to personal preference in literary genre. However, The Flight of The Alicorn featured more than just the typical threat to our technicoloured equines. There was conspiracy; there was murder; there was intrigue, and it was all done from an angle I've never seen before from another story on this site. The Flight of The Alicorn is probably one of the most original FIM fanfics I've ever read.
The story's technical aspects, while not trying to detract from the story's other positive attributes, was the best part of the whole story. I cannot praise enough the technical prowess of Ponydora, nor of his/her editing crew (if he/she had one). After three read-throughs, I have yet to find one typo or other common spelling mistake. Grammatical errors are exceedingly rare, and it would take an absolute grammar ninja - which I am - to find one. Even the chapters and scenes were cut at exactly the perfect places. As much as I want to, I cannot find a single recurring criticism in the entire novel. The Flight of The Alicorn needs to be used site-wide as an example of how to write properly.
There's really not much to say about this category, except that it kept me turning the pages. That, in itself, earns it an above-average mark, since most of the stories on FIMFiction do not hold my attention for more than a few pages - at best. From page one, I had no trouble becoming immersed in the story, and from the moment I opened the "cover" - in my ebook reader - to turning that final page, I never lost that sense of urgency to discover what would happen next. The only thing keeping this from earning an 'A' is the fact that the final couple chapters went by so quickly, that it seemed to almost sap the energy of the story, as if the accelerated pace itself was sucking up all the energy that the entire first three-quarters of the novel created for the reader.
A - Excellent: Outstanding quality, far exceeding that of almost all other stories on FIMFiction.
B - Above-average: Superior quality, exceeding that of most other stories on FIMFiction.
C - Average: The quality is about the same as in the majority of other stories on FIMFiction.
D - Below-average: Poor quality. This story has issues that are not seen in most other stories on FIMFiction.
F - Awful: Terrible quality, far below that of almost all other stories on FIMFiction.